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Mississippi Schools Barred from Handcuffing Students


How would you discipline a child? Likely the last thing that comes to mind is shackling them to a pole or a rail. Shockingly, that is how an alternative school in Mississippi's second-largest school district had been dealing with problematic students, reports The Washington Post.

“We have some students who have gone on record to say it’s happened to them three or four days in a row,” said Jody Owens, director of the Mississippi office of the Southern Poverty Law Center which had filed a law suit against the district for these extreme disciplining tactics. “We know there are some students who actually had to eat their lunch with one hand handcuffed to a railing,” she added.

Plus: Kindergartener Arrested, Handcuffed for Temper Tantrum

The principal of the school in question has argued that they handcuffed students for their own safety. But after a settlement with the Southern Poverty Law Center, district employees will no longer be permitted to handcuff students younger than 13 while older students may be handcuffed only for crimes (add this to the list of surprising things that actually required a law to prevent!). Fixed restraints—shackling a student to an object such as a railing, a pole, a desk or a chair—have been expressly forbidden and the principal and vice principal risk being fired if this method is used. The district has also agreed to record any instance where restraints are used

Plus: 8 Discipline Mistakes Parents Make

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Education, tens of thousands of students were strapped down or physically restrained at school in 2009 to 2010. 70 percent of them were disabled. Advocates for disabled students say restraints are often abused and can cause injury, or even death. Mississippi is one of 13 states with no statewide rules governing restraints and there are presently no federal standards.

Do you think restraining a student is ever acceptable?